What Resellers Want From Wholesalers.

Yesterday, we released our latest episode of the Fibrenews Podcast, which featured Ian Dunstan, a reseller/MSP based in Exeter. Ian has been operating Cobalt (his business) for the last 20 years and has a full scope of customers (1–500 users) across multiple products (voice, connectivity, & IT).

I (Jonny Rae) (about yay-high, brown hair, devilishly handsome) have always operated in the channel throughout my career (14 years), and up until January, I had been a consultant supporting resellers. I’m constantly having conversations with partners like Ian (inside and outside of the studio). I often get asked questions about entering the wholesale space, so I decided to do a write up covering four key points, that no new supplier should miss if wanting to enter this amazing channel.

If you want the quick answer, it’s simplicity, a good portal, good relationships, and great communication.

Now, you, as a reseller, may think this is a given. But it’s not. Many wholesalers can miss these marks. So for a deeper dive, read on…

Simplicity, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid): Whether it’s Ethernet, Broadband, Hosted Voice, or Cyber, simplicity is key. Simplicity in pricing and simplicity in ordering. Resellers don’t want to be scrolling through a thirty-page price index to see sixty fiber different tiers and scales depending on volume. Any “disruptor” entering the market has always had simple pricing on their product. We see it in voice all the time – one price. Everything included. Go nuts. These are the ones that gain huge traction when entering the market.

It goes the same way for connectivity. Whether it’s Layer 2 or Layer 3, have a handful of products and make the price right, for everyone. You may have a reseller that’s not pumping huge volumes, but that reseller may have a conversation with a large reseller and if it’s easy for them to say – “Yeah, you can buy this 100Mbps product at £14.00, layer 3”, that’s what will stick with the larger reseller. Trying to say, “well yeah, they have lots of products and the pricing is all dependent on your volume, but it starts at around X” isn’t going to get the partner excited.

All about the portal: You need to have a decent portal. A simple ethernet pricing tool ain’t going to cut it. Resellers want the facility to do the following:

Price check: Whether that’s an Ethernet price quote or access to the price book (which needs to be simple),. Access is needed. It could be for the MD of a small business or the fifty salespeople on the road. Being able to instantly get access to pricing is an absolute must. Picking up the phone to an account manager to run a quote isn’t good enough in 2024.

Customer management: As a minimum, the portal should be able to report on the customer base (name, address, etc.) with a product against each customer. Even better, would be diagnostics (almost all TR69 platforms provide APIs nowadays – do the work, it will reduce your support calls dramatically).

Support content: Some resellers just want to pick up the phone and speak to a human about a problem. Others, like Ian says in the podcast, just want access to content that explains how to fix a problem. That problem can be with the portal itself or diagnosing a fault with their end user.

Sales content: Have it to hand, you’ll be surprised at how much resellers will use it. Whether it’s white paper battle cards, blog content they can repurpose, or white-labeled brochures. Get your marketing team to think more about end-user content than your own. The resellers’ end-users are the ones spending the cash. Put the effort in there!

Unlock the Loyalty: NEVER underestimate the loyalty of your partner and the potential they can bring for recommendations and new business. If your account management team is home-based, then you’re not doing enough. A quick coffee, a couple of pints, some nice dinner, social interaction is KEY! Get your team back out in the field. A little can go a long way.

Accountability: Taking this directly from the podcast, Ian puts it perfectly “Everyone makes mistakes, we’re all in the business of selling technology, so things will go wrong” – “It’s how you deal with those problems that makes the difference”.

And he’s absolutely right! You’re going to have outages, or a new feature may not release as planned, so having the right procedure in place when this does happen is key. You need to brief your account managers, new business people, and support staff for the day that this may happen! Embed this in your culture – “At some point, we’re going to have a bad day and all of our phones will be ringing… make sure you answer that call”. Talk to the customers. Don’t worry that they’re going to be angry, of course, they are, Their customers are being affected, but it won’t be their first rodeo. They’ll forget the outage at some point. But what they won’t forget is how you dealt with it.

Never assume that an email once every four hours is enough. Resellers will want to keep informed because they will be dealing with chaos among their customers.

The above goes for voice, connectivity, and IT! (although IT tends to have far better systems for dealing with these nightmare times.)

These four elements make all the difference. The reseller space is a big one. There are thousands of resellers and MSP’s, each with their own customer base and each acquiring new customers every month. And guess what, all of these partners are looking for the next best product to outdo their competitors. So get it right and your product can scale at monumental speeds.

Exciting! We know there’s a good amount of new wholesale connectivity players coming to market, all due to launch this year, and I can’t wait to be able to bring the channel the news and tell you all about the next best thing… be patient, my friends, an aggressive alt-net aggregator will be coming to market (and let’s hope they tick all of the above boxes).

Jonny Rae

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